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Another Denver rally leaves Beavers winless in the Rockies

Bemidji State's Jeff Jubinville checks Denver's Chris Knowlton on the backwall behind the Denver net during the first period of Saturday's game in Denver. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren1 / 2
Bemidji State's Ryan Cramer and Denver's David Makowski battle for the puck during the first period of Saturday's game in Denver. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren2 / 2

DENVER - Denver rallied for the second straight game and defeated Bemidji State 4-2 to sweep the weekend series Saturday night at Magness Arena.

The loss also marked the second straight night the Beavers saw hopes of a comeback end with an empty-net goal in the final minute of play.

"We played a very good team on the road in a very difficult building-we played very good," Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore said. "We're close. We're just an eyelash away right now and we have to keep our chin up and keep working."

The Beavers played a strong defensive game, but could not convert a 2-1 lead after the first period into a victory. Sam Rendle and Ian Lowe scored the goals for the Beavers.

David Makowski, Nick Shore, Anthony Maiani and Jason Zucker scored for the Pioneers. Maiani's even strength goal at 7:10 of the third period stood as the game-winner.

Goalie Mathieu Dugas started in net for the second straight night for BSU and finished with 19 saves. Sam Brittain finished with 20 saves for Denver.

Bemidji State (2-7-1 overall, 2-7-1 WCHA) hosts Northern Michigan in a non-conference series next weekend at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. Game times are 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

"I thought we had a pretty good weekend and we have to go back to work Monday and put our thinking caps on and get ready for a big series next weekend," BSU defenseman Matt Carlson said.

The No. 13 ranked Pioneers improved to 7-4-2 overall and 6-2-1 in the WCHA with their fourth straight win.

Denver scored first when Makowski's slap shot from the top of the circles beat Dugas for his third goal of the season 4:59 into the game.

For the second straight night and the third time in four games, Rendle scored Bemidji State's first goal. His slap shot from just inside the blue line scored with 2:13 left in the first period.

Seconds before Rendle's goal, Denver's Chris Knowlton was called for elbowing and the delayed penalty put the Beavers on the power play on the ensuing face-off.

The Beavers took advantage of the opportunity when Lowe took Emil Billberg's quick pass from behind the net and slapped the puck over Brittain's shoulder. Lowe's goal from the front of the crease came with 1:24 left in the period and put the Beavers up 2-1.

Bemidji State played strong defensively through most of the second period and scoring opportunities were hard to come by for the Pioneers.

But Denver scored the equalizer late when Shore chipped a rebound from the top of the crease over Dugas' right shoulder. Shore's first goal of the year came with 1:23 left in the second period.

"It was too bad we gave up that goal there in the second period," Serratore said. "It would have been nice going into the third period up one goal versus a tie. It gave them a little air hose and the momentum shifted. Obviously you want the home team down; if you can have the home team down after two and they're playing from behind it sure helps matters in the third period."

Denver turned the momentum into a 3-2 lead with 12:50 to go in the third period on a play that started when Shore picked up a loose puck in front of the net and fired a quick shot on Dugas. He made the save but Maiani was at the crease to quickly push the rebound under Dugas' legs.

Denver made it tough the rest of the way for Bemidji State and the Beavers struggled to generate quality shots on Brittain. Read put a quick one-timer on net with just over four minutes to go, but Brittain came out of the net and made the save with his shoulder.

The game was stopped for about 10 minutes with 3:40 to go when the rink crew had to fix a pane of plexiglass on the goal line inside the Denver zone.

The timeout didn't change BSU's fortunes. With the extra attacker on the ice, Zucker ended the game when he spun around on a clearing attempt and the puck went nearly the full length of the ice for the empty-net goal.

Saturday night's loss was the second sweep of the season against the Beavers and the first since the season-opening series against North Dakota.

"We knew this wasn't going to be easy in this league and we knew what we were getting in to," Serratore said. "It's tough, it's a very difficult league and our effort is there. We're playing entertaining hockey and we're close."